Myka 9 And Factor: Sovereign Soul
Myka 9 and Factor are hugely talented, and they know it. That simple fact may be the reason Sovereign Soul doesn’t end up working. Sure, for a long time rap has been built on the self-assured swagger of its greatest voices (have you met Kanye West?) but Myka 9, with the help of Factor, manifests his self-assurance in a different way. It comes through in the way he jam-packs his album with a host of bells and whistles and fairly ambitious soundscapes. This isn’t some insecure trick to use heavy production as a means of deflecting attention from his own artistic deficiencies, but rather a belief in his capability to navigate a uneven balancing act of jazz, rock, and dance music influences. It works at times and ‒ again ‒ the talent is undeniable. Yet a lack of focus and a more-is-more mentality turn Sovereign Soul into a record that ranges anywhere from messy to borderline incoherent.
The album open with the song for which it is named, and it’s a bracing start, fit with a heavy guitar hook that asserts the nature of the collaboration between Factor and Myka 9. In fact, “bracing” is a pretty apt word for most of this album. “You Are Free,” the next track, never enters the smooth, natural rap territory it searches for. Even though his form is sound and the lyricism is impressive, it just sounds a bit stilted. “Bask in These Rays,” is beautifully produced and certainly stands out amid a fairly busy first half of the album. Placed right in the middle of the album, “Sexy to the Beat” exemplifies the lack of focus much of this album suffers from. It vacillates between being a dance track and a somewhat inane hip-hop number. It adds nothing to the vision of this album and actually reveals there isn’t much of a vision on Sovereign Soul. The second half of the album gives way to a flurry of collaboration with the likes of Charli Rose, ERULE ALLAH and Jah Orah. The success of these collabs is mixed. Johanna Phraze‘ provides a nice hook on “Heaven Up” that ends up turning into a pretty fun, throwback hip-hop track. Other times, the collaborations seem unneeded, as do a few of these songs.
Myka 9 and Factor have been around for a while, so the lack of discretion on this album is a bit confusing. None of it flows very well track to track, and, although they play with some intriguing concepts, the results are only sporadically satisfying. The talent is present, as is the ambition, but the execution remains lacking on Sovereign Soul.
MP3: Myka-9 and Factor “Bask in These Rays”
Buy: Insound! vinyl